A Wolf for a Spell

A Wolf for a Spell
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
December 01, 2020
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The Girl Who Drank the Moon meets Pax in this fantastical tale of a wolf who forms an unlikely alliance with Baba Yaga to save the forest from a wicked tsar.

Since she was a pup, Zima has been taught to fear humans—especially witches—but when her family is threatened, she has no choice but to seek help from the witch Baba Yaga.

Baba Yaga never does magic for free, but it just so happens that she needs a wolf’s keen nose for a secret plan she’s brewing… Before Zima knows what’s happening, the witch has cast a switching spell and run off into the woods, while Zima is left behind in Baba Yaga’s hut—and Baba Yaga’s body!

Meanwhile, a young village girl named Nadya is also seeking the witch’s help, and when she meets Zima (in Baba Yaga’s form), they discover that they face a common enemy. With danger closing in, Zima must unite the wolves, the witches and the villagers against an evil that threatens them all.

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1 review
A fairy tale about a wolf, an orphan, and a witch
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Zima is struggling to adjust to the new dynamics of her pack ever since her parents died in a fire and her brother took over leadership. She tries to stay in line and avoid the humans and witch Baba Yaga like he advises. When one of her pack is hurt, Zima is forced to go to Baba Yaga for help. Baba Yaga makes her a deal. She will heal Zima's pack member in exchange for the switching of their bodies for a time. Baba Yaga is on a mission to save the forest and the country, and she can only do so in the body of a wolf. After agreeing and their bodies are switched, Zima encounters a human orphan girl, Nadya, who has a mission of her own to save her beloved friend from the distrustful tsar. Baba Yaga, Zima, and Nadya's paths have crossed at an intersection all bound to a journey of defeating evil and protecting what they love.

I love a good Baba Yaga story, and A WOLF FOR A SPELL delivers. In this version, Baba Yaga is both good and bad. She strives to protect her forest, the same forest Zima lives in and Nadya loves, but she also dislikes getting involved. She prefers to stay on the sideline, even when something important is on the line. When she meets Zima, spends time as a wolf, and later gets to know the true tsar heir, Ivan, she finds that being passive doesn't mean being an innocent party and must face her fears to complete her mission. Zima and Nadya, though both less morally ambiguous, have similar journeys. They must be honest about their own strengths and faults and learn to overcome fear together.

The illustrations blew me away. I can't remember a time when I've read an illustrated middle grade fairy tale that featured positive fat representation. Katerina, Nadya's unofficial older sister who is the bride-to-be of the tsar after being an orphan herself, is depicted as fat and beautiful. She was without a doubt my favorite secondary character. I can't count the number of instances of fatphobia I've found in magical middle grade stories, and this was a breath of fresh air. Young readers will be able to see that fat girls can be heroes or princesses or tsarinas if they want.

With magic and folklore abound, A WOLF FOR A SPELL demonstrates the importance of overcoming prejudices, the power of teamwork, and overcoming fear.
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